Streetwise History: Lambton Quay

REBECCA THOMSON
Last updated 10:48 24/05/2012
Lambton 1901
ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY

Then: By 1901 buildings lined Lambton Quay. The BNZ building on the right still stands, but is know as the Old Bank Arcade.

Lambton 2012
REBECCA THOMSON
Now: Lambton Quay is a major pedestrian and traffic thoroughfare.

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Lambton Quay has been the scene of protests, parades and state funerals.

The road was initially known as Beach St and was the original foreshore until the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake lifted the land along the northwestern side of the harbour.

The street was renamed Lambton Quay after John Lambton, the first Earl of Durham and the first chairman of directors of the New Zealand Company.

Lambton Quay has been an important pedestrian and transport thoroughfare since Wellington's early settlement.

Initially horse-drawn trams ran along Lambton Quay. Steam engine trams were introduced in 1878 and electric trams in 1904.

Buses now run along the busy central city street.

Lambton Quay has hosted solemn and joyous occasions.

In 1925, a memorial procession along Lambton Quay for premier William Massey brought the city to a standstill, as did the military funeral procession accorded to the unknown warrior brought back to New Zealand in 2004.

Wellingtonians came out in force in 1954 to get a glimpse of the new monarch, Queen Elizabeth, as she made her way along Lambton Quay.

Wellingtonians have also marched along Lambton Quay fighting for women's rights and homosexual law reform, and in protest of war, nuclear power and asset sales.

Thousands have lined the route to cheer on our successes. Last year's Rugby World Cup winners' parade attracted 100,000 people.

These days Lambton Quay is full of high-rise office blocks, though several heritage buildings remain. These include the Old Bank Arcade (1901), Whitcoulls (1907) and the MLC Building (1939).

Perhaps one of the city's greatest architectural feats is the Old Government Buildings at the north end of Lambton Quay.

The historic category 1 structure was completed in 1876 and housed the civil service.

It is the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere and is now home for Victoria University's law school.

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